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Jackson v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

June 7, 2019

STEPHANIE ANN JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SHONT. ERWIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) denying Plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the Social Security Act. The Commissioner has answered and filed a transcript of the administrative record (hereinafter TR.___). The parties have consented to jurisdiction over this matter by a United States magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         The parties have briefed their positions, and the matter is now at issue. Based on the Court's review of the record and the issues presented, the Court REVERSES AND REMANDS the Commissioner's decision.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed her application for DIB on April 21, 2011, alleging a disability beginning January 5, 2011. (TR. 37). Initially and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's application for benefits. Following an administrative hearing, (TR. 54-94), an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 37-48). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 1-3). Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         II. THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         The ALJ followed the five-step sequential evaluation process required by agency regulations. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart, 431 F.3d 729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005); 20 C.F.R. §404.1520. At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 5, 2011, her alleged disability onset date. (TR. 39). At step two, the ALJ determined Ms. Jackson had the following severe impairments: obesity; arthritis in both knees; and left foot stress fracture. (TR. 39). At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or medically equal any of the presumptively disabling impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (TR. 44).

         At step four, the ALJ assessed Ms. Jackson's residual functional capacity (RFC):

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a range of sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a). The claimant can lift/carry/push/pull less than 10 pounds frequently and 10 pounds occasionally; sit 6 hours in an [8-hour] work day; stand/walk about 2 hours in an [8-hour] work day; and occasionally climb stairs and ramps and stoop but never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds, balance, kneel, crouch, or crawl.

(TR. 44). With this RFC, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not capable of performing her past relevant work as a janitor, receptionist or sales representative. (TR. 46-47).

         At step five, however, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a vocational expert (VE) who testified that Ms. Jackson had retained some transferable skills from her past relevant work including using a cash register to make change; minor record keeping; exchange of information and intake of information. (TR. 88). The VE also testified that Ms. Jackson could perform other jobs existing in significant numbers in the regional and national economies including Credit Card Clerk; Check Cashier; Sorter; Order Clerk of Food and Beverage; Call Out Operator; and Final Assembler of Optical Goods-all sedentary semi-skilled or unskilled jobs. (TR. 47-48). The ALJ determined the VE's description of these jobs was consistent with the information in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and determined Ms. Jackson had not been disabled, within the meaning of the Social Security Act, at any time from the alleged onset date through the date of the unfavorable decision. (TR. 48).

         III. ISSUES PRESENTED

         On appeal, Ms. Jackson alleges the ALJ committed legal error in that: (1) the RFC determination is not supported by substantial evidence in the record because the ALJ considered only the portions of medical opinions that supported her RFC determination; and (2) the ALJ erred in assessing Ms. Jackson's credibility.[1]

         IV. ...


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